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Holcomb, Braun object to Ohio train derailment waste coming to Indiana

(WISH) — Indiana leaders, including Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, are opposing the decision to bring toxic waste from the New Palestine, Ohio, train derailment to an Indiana landfill.

Holcomb cited a lack of communication from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to him and other Indiana officials about the decision to bring the hazardous waste to the state. He said he learned about the plan thirdhand and wants the waste to stay in Ohio.

The waste is planned to go to Heritage Environmental Services landfill in Putnam County. That’s 3 miles east of Russellville, a town of 300 about an hour’s drive west of Indianapolis.

Heritage says 100 trucks filled with 2,000 tons of toxic soil from Ohio will be dumped in its Roachdale landfill. It says the company already follows strict regulations from the federal government. Heritage told I-Team 8’s Kody Fisher that it bid on bringing the material to Indiana because the landfill is qualified to handle the toxic waste.

The company says the toxic materials are going through final testing before being approved to be sent to Indiana. Once at the Indiana landfill, Heritage will keep the waste in a double-lined storage area to prevent any leakage into the local water supply.

Ali Alivi, executive vice president of Heritage Environmental Services, said, “The regulatory level is 6 parts per million that you’re allowed to receive here at the landfill. The material that we’re receiving is coming out at about 0.033 parts per million.”

Landfill manager Eric Chris told I-team 8 his own family relies on the landfill to keep toxic waste out of their water. “I live within a mile of the landfill. My homesite has a freshwater well, and I have no concerns about anything leaching out of the landfill because of how it’s designed, monitored and upkept.”

County Commissioner David Berry, who lives in the Russellville area, has no problem with the toxic waste landing in Putnam County.  “I was comfortable with that material coming here knowing that it’s going to be handled properly.”

People who live near the landfill said there are mixed feelings about the plan. Jennifer Goss lives less than 10 minutes away from the landfill in Russellville. She said is not concerned about the material from Ohio coming to her community because of how long the landfill has been around.

“We ain’t grown six legs yet. I mean, really. They must be doing their job. Our water’s not getting contaminated. We get it checked regularly. I think they know what they’re doing with it,” Goss said.
 If this material is approved to come to Indiana, Heritage said it will stay there forever.


“I continue to object to the EPA Administrator’s decision, from Washington, D.C., to move hazardous waste from the East Palestine train derailment to Indiana. Further, there has been a lack of communication with me and other Indiana officials about this decision.

“After learning third-hand that materials may be transported to our state yesterday, I directed my environmental director to reach out to the agency. The materials should go to the nearest facilities, not moved from the far eastern side of Ohio to the far western side of Indiana. I have made a request to speak to the administrator to discuss this matter. I want to know exactly what precautions will be taken in the transport and disposition of the materials.”

Indiana’s Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb on Feb. 28, 2023

“I am opposed to the transfer of hazardous materials from the East Palestine train derailment into Indiana. The Biden EPA and Transportation Department have mishandled this disaster from day one. Any material from this disaster being transferred to Indiana overseen by this Biden EPA is seriously concerning. Hoosiers’ safety is my top priority.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican, on Feb. 28, 2023

“I am just as shocked as Governor Holcomb and other Hoosiers to learn that the EPA is transporting hazardous materials nearly 400 miles from the East Palestine train derailment to a facility in Indiana. However, I’m not surprised to see the continued lack of communication from the Administration to the American people and our state leaders about this issue. The Biden Administration has mishandled the response to this tragedy since it happened. Whether it be Secretary Buttigieg, or in this case the EPA, this is simply more of the same.

“I strongly oppose bringing these hazardous materials through or around the Ninth District, or to our neighboring Indiana communities, particularly when we have not been given any information about safety protocols taken to protect the public,” said Congresswoman Erin Houchin.

U.S. Rep. Erin Houchin, an Indiana Republican, on Feb. 28, 2023